|04 January 2014
This is a blog article, which expresses informal views.
Friends and fellow writers have asked about my writing, but I’ve found it difficult to describe my work concisely. I hope to answer that question here, and create good opportunities for conversation.
Foremost, I like ideas that scare and intrigue. I love to be immersed in world-building and character thought patterns, preferably painting a picture on a grand scale, with depth of historical context.
My favourite elements: grand space operas, alternative lifeforms and consciousness, first contact, fallen civilisations, alternative histories and futures, misuse of advanced technology, plausible magic systems, ideological revolutions, diverse ways of thinking, bizarre institutions and societies ... all these form my favourite material. Above all, these ideas need to impact characters that we care about, and create situations that we can enjoy or appreciate.
Some of my writing makes a process of discovery, staying with one character throughout. There are exceptions of course, and I want not to have hard-and-fast rules that restrict my style. I write in whatever style suits the idea. One of my stories is told from a first-person perspective, mixing past and present. Another uses a single point-of-view character in 95% of a story that is about 300 pages long. Another tracks dialogue and thoughts in four different type styles (and I dread to think what a publisher would make of that!)
When writing, I like to have a depth in the world-building. Not all of it will be exposed to the reader, but the depth is there nonetheless, so that the story itself is built on strong foundations.
This follows a general principle, to aim to understand something one level deeper than I really need, towards the foundations. This attitude, especially in technical subjects, has reaped rewards: rather than having a superficial understanding of a thing, I can make different things and better things from fundamentals. In saying that, most fantasy stories involve some suspension of disbelief, where an idea is impossible given our understanding of how things work. In my stories, I make such things easy to spot and accept early on, so they are not a point of frustration for the reader.
I have a few scientific publications under my belt, along with a library of technical material in a former day job. I would like to publish fiction soon, in anthology and novel forms, when I can dedicate enough time to the preparation and an intensive launch.
Some of my stories have been with me since I was an imaginative child. Others are carefully-planned grand operas (pretentious works-in-progress), and some were typed out from nothing in a couple of hours. It is refreshing to note that the latter can be as powerful as the former; a strong idea, along with dramatic implications, can sometimes be communicated in just a few words, to have a lasting impression on the reader.
Not yet! I am reserving my work until I am confident that I can publish my best work in the best way.